The start of the ’gap’ between midterms and finals is definitely a good time to find more opportunities to de-stress where possible. As I’ve been emphasizing the importance I’ve placed on striking a balance between work and play, I’ve decided to find out where my fellow first-years have been going to relax on campus. Specifically, I’ve been looking for places to ‘unplug’ and unwind without keeping a constant eye on my phone.
Being freshmen, we probably haven’t discovered the less well-know spots yet, which is likely the reason why an overwhelming majority of people’s responses were one of the various libraries on the St. George campus. Robarts was a popular favourite, with a few first-years also voicing support for Gerstein and E.J Pratt. I suppose the rationale is that study spaces are nice and quiet already, so by simply leaving your phone alone while you’re there and maybe bringing a book along, you’ll be in a great environment for being immersed in the reading material. If I ever find the time, I’ll definitely be bringing my paperbacks and hardcovers to some of these spots to try them for myself!
Physical activity is another way of breaking your addiction to your screens; accordingly, athletics was also brought up in a couple of answers.
“Other than Robarts? Well…I find that a great way to unwind is to drop by the athletics centre. Getting into any kind of physical activity is a good deterrent for checking notifications every minute, whether it’s getting a workout in, or shooting some hoops. Also, the athletics centre is just across the street from Robarts! …But I digress.” – Ryan
“Go for a run! We’ve got a great campus, and running seems like an ideal way to get to know it. I’ve gone for runs around Queens Park all the time.” – Philip
These are pretty solid recommendations. The Athletic Centre is a good idea but if that’s not a convenient spot, I believe there are other places to play some sports or take a run around campus, including Hart House and Varsity Centre.
When it comes to unplugging, it’s understandable that it would be difficult to do. It really comes down to making a personal commitment to step away from the screen and from your apps/social media accounts. While de-activating a Facebook account (or even deleting the app) may be a bit too much to ask for some, even muting notifications can be a great way to start. It’s encouraging to see so many of us first-years already finding ways to relax without the use of smartphones and computers, and I’m hoping to follow in their footsteps and actively participate in #UnplugUofT !